Refugee admits torching cathedral in France: report


PARIS, July 26 (Xinhua) – A refugee who had volunteered at Saint-Pierre-et-Saint-Paul Cathedral in Nantes, western France, confessed to setting the fire which damaged the great organ inside the cathedral a week ago, French media reported on Sunday.

The suspect, a 39-year-old Rwandan asylum seeker who has been living in France for several years, was arrested on Saturday. He admitted to having started three fires in the cathedral – at the main organ, the smaller organ and the electrical panel, Nantes prosecutor Pierre Sennes told local newspaper Presse-Océan.

Accused of “destruction and damage by fire”, the suspect faces up to 10 years in prison and 150,000 euros (174,827 US dollars) in fines, according to the prosecutor.

The fire burned down the 15th-century Gothic cathedral on July 18 and destroyed its organ. Priceless artifacts and paintings have also been lost, including a work by 19th-century artist Jean-Hippolyte Flandrin and stained-glass windows containing remains of 16th-century glass, according to the public broadcaster France 24.

The French government has said it will restore the cathedral.


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